Thirty percent of all new mothers in Grant County, Indiana, are teens.
“And those moms are not equipped to be parents, they just don’t have the skills,” says Vicki Shafer, family nutrition advisor for Purdue Extension-Grant County.
The children of teen mothers often face more difficulties than their peers, such as higher rates of abuse, increased school dropout rates, and the likelihood that they will live in poverty. So Shafer offers Purdue’s Moms Together Program, which provides young mothers with mentors who help them develop the skills they need. This free program provides a safe atmosphere where young pregnant or parenting mothers can share experiences and support each other. Childcare also is available, which allows participants to meet and spend time with their mentors.
“There’s a huge need for these girls to have someone come along side of them to show them what to do and how to parent,” Shafer said.
Classes cover nutrition, child development, school readiness, stress management, communication, raising safe children, and more. Mentors also encourage the young mothers to continue their education and to become self-sufficient. Teen mothers who participate learn how to raise healthier children and gain confidence in their abilities.
“The program is teaching me about children and how to deal with them and how to be a better parent,” said Hannah, a program participant. “It makes me more confident about being a parent.”